When we think of caravan upholstery, the image that comes to mind is wheeled-wooden houses with heavy drapes. Precisely so, these are traditional caravans, but the upholstery within now extends much further, and now the term is used for upholstery in their modern counterparts, like trailers, vans, and RV's.
As such, caravan upholstery encompasses the upholstery in all these large vehicles, and can include curtains, drapes, seats, chairs, headboards, and other upholstered areas. It can be considered a part of automotive upholstery, but has a few key differentiators since people are usually living in these vehicles.
The earliest caravans that had upholstery of any kind traces back to 17th century Europe. The caravans were made of wood, and the upholstery was made of organic materials like wool, since other types of fabrics weren't around yet. There were curtains, cushions, chairs, and even single-sized beds in these caravans.
Caravan upholstery was not yet fully differentiated and defined, so people used whatever indoor upholstery was available; as such, caravans used home upholstery.
Only from the 20th century did caravan upholstery become innovative. The caravan was revamped to a metal frame with plexi glass windows. The vehicle had upholstery made of synthetic fabrics, which were more durable, and foam was introduced, which made pull-out beds and durable seats a reality. Thus, the modern-day trailer was born!
How is Caravan Upholstery Made?
There are 2 main materials used in caravan upholstery; foams and fabrics. Here is how these materials are used to make caravan upholstery:
The main type of foam used in caravan upholstery is polyurethane (PU) foam. These foams are made by combining polyols and di-isocyanates. The reaction between these two compounds gives the porous nature of PU foam.
For caravans, the PU foam needs to have a high density, because thin planks of wood are usually used for the support seats. These planks of wood are sometimes not strong enough to support the full weight of a person. As such, the foam helps distribute the weight across its surface.
Again, for seats that turn into beds, a mixed density foam would be the right choice. Mixed foams provide enough support while sitting and also provide enough comfort when made into a bed.
There are two main types of fabrics used in caravan upholstery. They are:
Since caravan interiors are subject to inconsistent climatic conditions, fabrics are usually synthetic. Synthetic fibers are made using a reaction known as polymerisation. It combines chemical monomers into polymers. This reaction produces a string-like substance, which is then weaved into fabrics.
Usually only bedding and other upholsteries that change-out easily are made of natural fabrics. However, even with these fabrics, only the most durable ones are used.
Here are some of the main characteristics of caravan upholstery materials:
The main feature of caravan foams is that they are all combustion modified foams (CMF). These kinds of foams are resistant to heat and burning.
They are also never low density or soft foams. These foams are high-density open-cell foams. And because they are open cells, they are very breathable and can dry quickly.
Thus, sweat or spillage is easily managed. PU foams that have high density are also heavy and very durable. These foams are able to retain shape even after years of heavy use.
Synthetic fabrics are very durable and UV-treated. Thus, making them very resistant to fast discolouration. Because they are durable seat covers, is rarely changed or removed. Synthetic fabrics like PUL fabrics are also very easy to clean when you use a professional cleaning service every year.
Organic fabrics are also used, but they still have their natural properties and thus can be susceptible to the common issues. Wool is highly absorbent and get easily get stained and cotton doesn’t like too much exposure to moisture.
Here are the main uses of the materials in caravan upholstery:
The foams are usually used to make seats, pull-out beds, and other seating structures. Sometimes other surfaces may also have foams for padding. They are used to provide comfortable spaces for sleep and rest, such as mattresses. As caravans and trailers are vehicles that are used for long journeys, foams are integral components.
Synthetic fabrics like nylon are used as the main covers for the seats. PUL fabrics are used as table cloths or seat protectors. They are also very useful as curtains because they can block UV rays.
Then we have organic fabrics that are used mainly for bedding. Since synthetic fabrics can get a little uncomfortable, organic fabrics add that layer of comfort. Organic materials like leather and suede are also used for aesthetic value. They are frequently applied on different surfaces like dashboards, walls, and door panels.
Caravans are becoming increasingly popular and thus more customisable. If you don’t mind synthetic materials, there’s a lot of choice for decking out your interior with practical and durable choices.